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Homeschooling and Concurrent Enrollment in College


Here is another frequently asked question here on Harmony Art Mom.

Have your children done concurrent enrollment, completing courses that count for high school and college at the same time?

With each of our children we have considered our schooling options very carefully and took into account the child’s strengths and weaknesses. Concurrent enrollment at the local community college was always something we considered. We first analyzed the reasons for enrolling in community college courses and then we measured the time commitment. We also decided whether we could duplicate the course at home using online courses or more advanced materials available to homeschoolers.
With our three boys we have made different decisions about concurrent enrollment that matched their needs and goals.
  • Mr. A – No concurrent enrollment. Instead, he completed the ground school portion of flight school through our local Young Eagles program which was one night a week for almost his entire junior year of high school. He also took a year long welding and metal fabrication course his senior year through a local adult school. Both were just the right thing to pump up his courses at home. He was able to test the waters of school outside the house and to learn about things he was interested in pursuing in the future. He is still eagerly pursuing both interests.
  • Mr. B – Only in his senior year. He did not take any outside classes in his junior year but he signed up at the community college for two computer programming classes and a fitness class for his upcoming senior year. He seems ready to venture out and give community college courses a try. He came home from his college counseling appointment with two brochures for certificate programs that he might pursue further. (Both include lots of math and science courses which he enjoys).
  • Mr. D – In his junior and senior year. My oldest son was homeschooled in high school and he took quite a few college classes before he graduated from high school. These are the ones I remember: weightlifting, computer keyboarding, composition, a variety of online and in the classroom computer programming courses, and photography. At that time, we had no support from the local homeschooling community for high school level association. The community college classes were a way to allow him some time among students more his age. We carefully considered the courses, the amount of time involved, and the expense and decided for Mr. D that community college courses were a good fit.

A few miscellaneous words of advice:

  • Math courses at the community college are not harder but they are usually done in a semester instead of a year so the pace needs to be considered. My boys have preferred to take their time through upper level math so we completed those courses at home with the help of really good texts and support.
  • Science at the college always includes a HUGE amount of talk about evolution and nothing to counter-balance. I know for our family I was more comfortable waiting for college level science until after they graduated and were more mature.
  • Literature courses at the community college level always lean towards the very liberal bias. Social issues seem to pop up in every discussion and if your children are conservative in nature and have strong Christian beliefs, they are going to be challenged on a college level by fellow students and teachers. For some children this is something they need to work up to and for my children I chose to wait until they were older before putting them in that position.

So keep in mind that even though your child may be academically ready for community college and concurrent enrollment, emotionally and physically they may not be as ready as you think. We have never regretted our decision to hold off on particular college courses when they were in high school.

Now here is my personal opinion:
Sometimes the best gift we can give our children is the gift of time. Time to grow and mature in a place where they can flourish. For my children this took place mostly at home among their siblings and close friends. They were able to build a solid foundation both academically and spiritually within the walls of our homeschool. They felt comfortable to ask questions, to express their thoughts, and to taste a bit of the world as it touched them through their everyday lives and contacts.There has been no reason to rush them along the road of life….this time is precious and not to be hurried.

I have learned to trust my children and as long as they are self-educating, learning things that they can use and apply, and have some goals, my husband and I are supportive.

Just like each child learns to walk on their own schedule and they learn to read when they are ready, I am trusting that my children will go to college when it is the right time. 
In the meantime, I will watch and support their interests.

Weekly Wrap-Up: A Lot of Letting Go This Week

Yosemite National park April 2012
Glorious April Day Visit to Yosemite National Park

Mr. A, my graduate from last year, made a big step this week. He took his very first “behind the wheel” flying lesson on his way to getting his private pilot’s license. If you have been a longtime reader of this blog you know that he has had this as a goal for many years. He actually took the plane off from the airport and then flew it by himself. I have a total phobia of flying so even thinking about this made me shriek on the inside. He knew this and didn’t tell me ahead of time that he was actually going to fly the airplane at his first lesson…he only said he was going to go talk to the instructor. Good move on his part since I probably would have done one of two things. I would have either thrown myself in front of the airplane so it couldn’t move or I would have been there with my camera to take photos. I’m sure he didn’t need me to do either of those things. Next lesson…this afternoon. Sidenote: He is also up for an internship in aviation maintenance at a local airport. This would be an answer to prayer.

Time for letting go button
Look closely and you will see Half Dome in the distance (left horizon).

Now the second big step, which I am not sure if it was bigger for Mr. B or for me. I drove him to the community college and dropped him off for assessments and a counseling appointment. He is determined to take a few classes either this summer or next year. In a new stage of our relationship, I left him to navigate the big world of the community college on his own. He looked so young (which he is) but he also had a little spring in his step as he walked down the sidewalk to the Student Services building. I refused to question myself. (Did I prepare him enough? Is he ready for this step? Should I have fill in the blank? I am confident that he is ready enough.)

The rest of the week was full of lots of outdoor time. We took a day trip to Yosemite National Park to see the beautiful waterfalls that are flowing this time of year. We were treated to some magnificent wildflowers (which you can see a glimpse of over on my Handbook of Nature Study blog this week). Mr. B and I have been participating in the April GetOutside Photo Scavenger Hunt hosted by Go Explore Nature by taking walks/hikes every single day this week. You can see our photos on the Pinterest Board.  We also worked in the garden pulling weeds, trimming bushes, and planting seeds. Mr. A rode his bike to work this week to save money on gas. We all have spring allergies.

We have three weeks of school left for the year and I am feeling the pull of summer vacation.  

Link up with your Weekly Wrap-Up post at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

High School Graduation – The Dust Settles

Flying Kites Harris Beach

This post has been brewing for a few weeks and it will take some courage to post it up for all of you to read.

Mr. A had a wonderful graduation season shared with family and friends. He has a stack of cards and a lot of photos from the gatherings and now he is setting off on another road, a road that does not include college in the fall. He has set a course for himself that will be rather different and is shaping up to look more like a Gap Year experience, one that I never thought he would choose. (I enjoyed reading this article on Gap Years.)

He has goals for himself….travel, ministry to others in a variety of ways, and getting his pilot’s license.

It looks like at least for the fall semester he will be focusing on those aspects of his life that he hopes someday will come together as one career. Neither my husband or I have any problem with his goals….it is just scary to watch as he spreads his wings wider and wider and in this case to see him literally fly away.

Towola Dunes hike on the beach
When we see our children taking their own road in life it is sometimes tempting to interfere, to insert our dreams into their lives. Not everyone needs to go to college straight from high school and some people don’t need to go at all. This particular son sees college as a tool and not as the ultimate goal. He will go when he needs to go and as I have seen over the last year he will find a way to learn what he wants to learn.

I already see the blessings being poured out on his decisions. Exciting and scary at the same time.

Boys on the Beach - Brookings
Since the beginning of May he has accomplished all of these things totally on his own initiative:
1. Job shadowed an electrician.
2. Started and is near completing a certified course in forklift operation.
3. Helped sheetrock a new place of worship.
4. Started a new job and received a promotion.
5. Found someone to help him learn a particular type of welding (TIG)
6. Began self-teaching how to play the piano.
7. Reviewed his ground school textbook and studied the Private Pilot’s test book while on our camping trip.
8. Learned how to pull a trailer and back it up with confidence.

Okay, typing up the list helps me see that this is a child that can learn anything he puts his mind to when the time is right. We shall enjoy watching him grow in the year to come.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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